Company Required Applicants to Complete an Unlawful Pre-Offer Health Questionnaire, Federal Agency Charged
TAMPA, Fla. - KB Staffing LLC, a staffing firm servicing central Florida, made unlawful pre-offer health inquiries of applicants in violation of federal law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, from 2011 to 2013, KB Staffing asked all applicants to complete a paper application package with a detailed medical questionnaire before the company offered the applicant a position or placement. The suit further alleges that, although KB Staffing represented that it changed its process in 2013, it still required applicants to complete a medical questionnaire prior to any offer of employment in some instances after that date. The medical questionnaires asked for sensitive health information, and included numerous disability-related questions.
Employers are generally prohibited from making pre-offer medical inquiries by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit against KB Staffing in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (EEOC v. KB Staffing LLC, Case No. 8:16-cv-1088-T-27MAP, M.D. Fla.) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.
"Congress recognized that prohibiting pre-offer medical inquiries was necessary to prevent applicants from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of an actual or perceived disability," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. "As staffing agencies now play a large role in our nation's workforce, eliminating any discrimination in their screening practices is increasingly important to ensuring that workers with disabilities have equal access to work opportunities."
EEOC's Tampa Field Director Georgia Marchbanks added, "Employers need to be aware that EEOC will continue to enforce the ADA vigorously. Applicants should not have to worry that an employer will use sensitive and private medical information against them to unfairly exclude them from jobs that they could perform."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). These barriers can include exclusionary policies and practices, restrictive application processes, and the use of screening tools such as pre-employment tests, background checks and medical questionnaires.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information can be found at www.eeoc.gov.